Montreal ballet company juxtaposes two dances in 'Italian Evening'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performs two dances, both choreographed by Italian Mauro Bigonzetti but quite different in style, when the troupe visits Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12. "Italian Evening" features The Four Seasons, set to beloved music by Vivaldi, and Cantata, performed to live music sung by Gruppo Musicale Assurd.

“The Four Seasons is preternaturally angular and airy, a balletic-based study of dancers as creatures with [recorded] music by the Venetian-born Antonio Vivaldi,” wrote a Boston Globe reviewer. “Cantata is earthy and human, utilizing a hearty, sweaty, barefoot modern-dance vocabulary with live accompaniment by Gruppo Musicale Assurd, an all-female quartet who perform contemporary compositions and traditional music of southern Italy.”

Bigonzetti called Cantata “a choreography bursting with the typical vibrant colors of the South (of Italy).” A piece in which dance and music strongly intermingle, Cantata includes Italian love songs and serenades of the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Its passionate and visceral gestures evoke a Mediterranean and wild type of beauty,” he said. “An instinctual and vital dance explores the various facets of the relationship between man and woman: seduction, passion, quarrels, jealousy. Cantata pays homage to the Italian culture and musical tradition, a popular one in the highest sense of the term.”

Since its founding in 1957, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens has enriched audiences with programming that is contemporary and yet faithful to the spirit of classical ballet. Gradimir Pankov, who became artistic director in 2000, has brought innovation and an intercultural approach to the company.

Robert and Helen Harvey will sponsor the presentation. Audio description, which is especially helpful to patrons with sight loss, is available for this performance at no extra charge to ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Pierre Lapointe, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens principal ballet master, and/or Corinne Jozsef, the ballet company’s director of touring, will be offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $48 for an adult, $20 for a University Park student and $39 for a person 18 and younger. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 814-863-0255 and 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays) and Bryce Jordan Center (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Photos of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for media use are available to download at

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Last Updated February 07, 2013